Credit reporting company Equifax has just revealed that its databases were hacked in a large-scale breach affecting millions across the US, UK & Canada. While no hacking event is ever good news, some are easier to ignore than others – this isn’t one of them. The sensitive nature of the exposed data now requires immediate action for all those even possibly affected.
The short version: Equifax is one of the three main organizations in the US that manages & calculates credit scores. To do that effectively, they have access to almost every piece of financial data for adults in the country, plus pretty much anyone who’s lived/worked in the US. We’re talking social security, tax file numbers, drivers’ license, credit card numbers…the big stuff. On July 29, Equifax disclosed the breach, stating that hackers had repeatedly gotten in through a vulnerability in the web application from mid-May to July of this year.
If you’re an Equifax customer: As scary as all that sounds, what’s done is done. Equifax, cyber-security experts & law enforcement officials are on the case, working to minimize the long-term damage.
The best action now is to protect yourself against fallout:
- Go to: http://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to see if your data may have been affected. There was some news that this site was delivering random results, but Equifax announced it has been corrected. At this stage, it’s safest to assume everyone with a credit history has been impacted, so unless that link gives a definite ‘no you’re safe’ response, continue with the following recommendations.
- Claim the Equifax free year of credit monitoring & identity theft insurance (if you’re a US resident). If you’re not eligible, consider sourcing your own. As the hacked data will continue to circulate for some time, also consider extending your credit monitoring for a few more years.
- Keep a close eye on your finances and accounts. Check for notifications of new credit applications, monitor your statements and bills, and immediately report any suspicious activity or sudden change in billing.
- Change all your passwords to be strong, unique and long. Any of the stolen data may give hackers a free pass into the rest of your bank accounts, email and personal information.
- Add two-factor authentication where possible. This is when an account demands a second layer of authentication before allowing access or changes – getting the password correct isn’t enough, the hacker would also need to get the special code sent by SMS.
- Consider freezing your credit report. This makes it harder for identity thieves to open accounts under your name, as access is completely restricted until you choose to un-freeze.
It has come to our attention that a CRA scam purporting to be endorsed by TCG Chartered Professional Accountants LLP has been distributed via email.
Be advised that neither TCG nor CRA is involved in any way with this illicit activity.
Please visit the following CRA resource to learn how to best protect yourself online and how to identify fraudulent activity:
Have you been a victim?
You should report deceptive telemarketing to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or by calling 1-888-495-8501.
Did you know?
Most Canadian income tax and benefit returns for 2015 are due on April 30, 2016. However, as this date is a Saturday, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will consider your return as filed on time and your payment to be made on time if the CRA receives your submission or it is postmarked by midnight on May 2, 2016.
Self-employed individuals and their spouses or common-law partners have until June 15, 2016, to file their income tax and benefit return, but any balance owing is still due no later than May 2, 2016.
If you received income that has no tax withheld or does not have enough tax withheld for more than one year, you may have to pay tax by instalments. We will issue you a reminder if we think that you may have to pay by instalments. Failing to pay in full and on time will result in interest charges, and could lead to legal actions by the CRA.
More and more Canadians are paying their taxes online. When you pay online, you can make your payment anytime, from anywhere! Last year, we received over six million payments from individual filers online.
There are several secure ways to make a payment to the CRA.
Online payment options
- Online banking:
- Sign in to your financial institution's online banking service.
- Under 'add a payee', look for CRA (revenue)-(2015)-tax owing, CRA (revenue)-past tax owed, CRA (revenue)-tax instalment or a similar payee and select the one that applies to you.
- Be sure to enter your account number (either your social insurance number or business number) carefully to avoid a lost or misapplied payment.
- Debit card: Use My Payment, the CRA’s online payment service. It allows individuals and businesses to make payments using Interac® Online.
- Credit card: The CRA offers the option of paying taxes using a credit card through a third-party service provider that offers additional payment methods. Third-party providers charge a fee for their service. The CRA may charge you penalties and interest if your payment is late; the CRA receives your payment on the date the service provider sends the funds to the CRA—contact the service provider to find out about processing delays. The only provider that currently offers the credit card option is listed below for your convenience.
- Plastiq (T2 Corporation and T1 Individual)
- Plastiq (T2 Corporation and T1 Individual)
- Pre-authorized debit: Pre-authorized debit lets you set up a payment to be made from your bank account to the CRA on a pre-set date. You can pay an overdue amount or make instalment payments. You can set up a pre-authorized debit agreement at your convenience using the CRA's My Account service. For more information, go to Pre-authorized debit.
For other payment methods, go to www.cra.gc.ca/payments.
If you cannot pay your balance owing by the tax-filing season deadline, you can make a payment arrangement in one of the followings ways:
- make a pre-authorized debit payment agreement using My Account;
- call the CRA's TeleArrangement telephone service at 1-866-256-1147; or
- call the CRA's debt management call centre at 1-888-863-8657 to speak to an agent.
The CRA’s online services make filing and managing your taxes easier
The CRA's online services are fast, easy, and secure. You can use them to help file your income tax and benefit return, make a payment, track the status of your return, register for online mail, apply for child benefits, and more. Access the CRA’s full suite of self-service options—register for My Account at today, and start managing your tax matters online!
- Protect yourself— tax scams and fraud can cost you Taxpayers should be vigilant when they are contacted by an organization, either by telephone, mail, text message or email, that claims to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requesting personal information such as a social insurance number, credit card number, bank account number, or passport number. These are scams and taxpayers should never respond to these fraudulent communications or click on any of the links provided.
- Top questions we get at tax time Every year around tax time, Canadians call the CRA with a variety of questions. See below for our answers to the top questions asked at tax time.
- Enjoy the benefits of filing on time and online Filing your income tax and benefit return and paying what you owe on time helps prevent delays in receiving your benefits, and helps you avoid possible interest and penalty charges. To save you time and possibly money, the CRA publishes on its website a list of CRA-certified commercial tax preparation software packages and web applications to help you file your return online, including options that are free.
- Five things to avoid when filing your return The CRA has put together a list of some things to avoid this tax-filing season. Follow these tips; they could save you time and money!
- Video: New to Canada? Learn about taxes + Are you a newcomer to Canada? This video shows newcomers how the Canadian tax system works and what Canada does with the taxes we pay.
For telephone, fax, and TTY (teletypewriter) numbers and for addresses, go to Contact us.
Canada Revenue Agency
Government of Canada
Ottawa ON K1A 0L5
- Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) / Old Age Security (OAS) – increases the GIS benefit by up to $947 annually for low-income single seniors. Single seniors with annual income (other than Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits) of about $4,600 or less will receive the full increase of $947. Restores the OAS eligibility age to 65 from 67.
- Canada Child Benefit (CTB) – Effective July, 2016, the CTB will replace the existing Universal Child Care Benefit and the Canada Child Tax Benefit. It will provide a tax-free maximum benefit of $6,400 per child under the age of 6, and $5,400 per child aged 6 through 17. The benefit will be phased out at various rates depending on your family income and the number of children you have. An additional amount of $2,730 will be available for children with severe disabilities.
- “Family” Income Splitting Credit – Eliminated effective tax year 2016.
- Northern Residents Deduction – Effective tax year 2016, the existing deductions have been increased.
- Labour-Sponsored Venture Capital Corporations Tax Credit – Effective tax year 2016, the Federal tax credit which was previously slated to be eliminated, has been restored to 15% for share purchases of prescribed provincially registered LSVCC’s.
- Teacher and Early Childhood Educator School Supply Tax Credit – Effective tax year 2016, allows employee’s who are eligible educators to claim a 15% refundable tax credit based on an amount of up to $1,000 in expenditures made by the employee for eligible supplies.
- Mineral Exploration Tax Credit for Flow-Through Share Investors – Extends the tax credit to flow-through share agreements entered into on or before March 31, 2017.
- Education and Textbook Tax Credits – Effective tax year 2017, the existing tax credits will be eliminated. Unclaimed tax credits carrying forward into 2017 will still be eligible for claims in 2017 and beyond.
- Children’s Fitness and Arts Tax Credits – Effective tax year 2016, the maximum eligible amounts will be reduced from $1,000 to $500 for the children’s fitness tax credit and from $500 to $250 for the children’s arts tax credit. For tax year 2017 both credits will be eliminated.
- Personal Service Corporation – Effective January 1, 2016, the federal tax rate for personal service corporations will be increased from 28% to 33%.
- Taxation of “Switch Funds” – Effective for fund “switches” after September 2016, these will now be considered taxable sales as opposed to tax-deferred sale.
- Small Business Tax Rate – Effective January 1, 2017, freeze the small business tax rate at 10.5%, whereas it was previously scheduled to drop to 9% by 2019. Concurrent with this change, to preserve integration between corporate and personal tax rates, the personal dividend tax gross up factor and dividend tax credit will also be frozen at 2016 rates.
- Multiplication of the $500K Small Business Deduction – Partnerships – Certain partners of partnerships have structured their affairs in a manner that allows them to access the full $500K small business deduction where they would otherwise only have had access to a minimal small business deduction. This benefit will be eliminated through changes in legislation effective March 22, 2016.
- Multiplication of the $500K Small Business Deduction – Corporation – Multiplication of the small business deduction can also be accomplished through use of a corporate structure. This benefit will also be eliminated through changes in legislation effective March 22, 2016. More specifically, a corporation’s active business income from providing services (directly or indirectly, in any manner whatever) to a private corporation will be ineligible for the small business deduction where, at any time during the year, the corporation, one of its shareholders or a person who does not deal at arm’s length with such a shareholder has a direct or indirect interest in the private corporation. This rule will not apply if all or substantially all of its active business income is earned from providing services to arm’s length persons other than the private corporation, or where the private corporation “assigns” part of its unused small business limit to the corporation.
- Life Insurance Proceeds and Capital Dividend Account – Effective for deaths after March 22, 2016, the Income Tax Act will be amended to ensure that capital dividend account rules for private corporations, and the adjusted cost base rules for partnership interests, apply as intended.
- Transfers of Life Insurance Policies – For policies transferred after March 22, 2016, the proceeds of disposition of any life insurance policies will include the fair market value of any consideration received by the transferor. For transfers made prior to March 22, 2016, the amount added to the capital dividend account will be limited.
- Eligible Capital Property (ECP) – A new CCA class would replace the existing ECE rules. Expenditures that are currently added to the cumulative eligible capital pool (CEC) at 75% would be included in the new CCA class at 100%. The new class would have a 5% annual declining balance depreciation rate. The existing CCA rules regarding recapture, capital gains, half-year, etc would apply to the new class. The transitional rules are rather complex, however there are some rules for small businesses to simplify the transition but these are also too complex for purposes of this summary.
- Previously announced tax measures – Confirms the Governments intention to proceed with tax measures related to:
- Conversion of capital gains into tax-deductible inter-corporate dividends (section 55)
- The repeated failure to report income penalty
- The sharing of taxpayer information within the CRA to facilitate the collection of certain non-tax debts
- The GST joint venture election
- BC Training and Education Savings Grant – To help even more parents and families save early for their child’s education, Budget 2016 extends the program to children born on or after January 1, 2006. Previously the program was only available to children born on or after January 1, 2007. The program allows parents to apply at participating financial institutions for a $1,200 grant when their child turns 6 years old. The grant is a one-time payment of $1,200 for every eligible BC resident child born since January 1, 2006, and will be transferred to the child’s registered education savings plan
- Temporary Top Personal Income Tax Rate expired as promised – A temporary tax rate was introduced for the 2014 and 2015 tax years of 16.8% on taxable income over $150,000. This two-year temporary measure was set to expire December 31, 2015, resulting in BC’s top tax rate being reduced back down to 14.7% on income over $106,543. For 2016, BC tax rates are as follows:
- Income between $106,544 to $140,388 – 40.7%
- Income between $140,389 to $200,000 – 43.7%
- Income above $200,000 – 47.7% (results from Federal Liberal 4% increased top tax bracket)
- BC Tax Reduction Credit – Effective 2016 the phase out rate was increased to 3.56% of net income, and the credit phase-out threshold was increased to $19,400
- BC Seniors’ Home Renovation Tax Credit expanded to persons with disabilities
- Federal Changes to Taxation of Trusts and Estates have been paralleled
- Property Transfer Tax exemption – Effective for purchases after February 16, 2016, this exemption reduces or eliminates the amount of property transfer tax on the acquisition of newly built homes with a fair market value under $800,000
- Support for Rural Communities – To help rural communities reinvigorate and diversify their economies, BC is investing $75 million over three years to the Rural Dividend Program. To recognize the importance of public transportation, BC is investing $7 million to expand service in BC Transit’s operating area
- BC Mining Flow-Through Share Tax Credit – Extended to end of 2016
- Medical Services Plan Premiums Increased – Premiums are increased about 4% effective January 1, 2017, as well the rate structure is significantly changed resulting in savings for certain families
- PST – The minister announced a commission on tax competitiveness to “consider ways to modernize the existing tax structure, given the changing economy.” However, it was noted that the “scope of work will explicitly exclude consideration of a harmonized sales tax”